Good relationship with key worker pivotal in turning young people away from crime

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 00.21.39One positive and sustained relationship with a youth worker can make all the difference in helping young people leave crime behind, said Dame Glenys Stacey, HM Chief Inspector of Probation. Today she published a report on the effectiveness of practice in Youth Offending Teams (YOTS), looking at the main themes which desistance research has identified as being important in supporting children and young people’s routes away from offending.

The report, Desistance and young people, relates to findings from interviews undertaken with young people who had not reoffended for 12 months after the end of their community or custodial sentence and with those who had, to see what they thought worked or did not work for them. Interviews were also undertaken with parents/carers and key workers and case records were checked. In recent years, YOT workloads have reduced, as has their funding and often their continuity of staff. Those changes as well as the relative lack of youth research may have affected how far YOTs have applied themselves to youth desistance. Inspectors found some case managers had an excellent grounding and understanding of desistance theory, but most staff were unclear about how key approaches could be applied.

Inspectors were concerned to find that in some cases, case managers were ambivalent about reparation work and felt that children were sometimes slotted into existing projects that case managers thought unlikely to prove effective. Some case managers reported spending too much time getting young people into unpaid work, with enforcement action if they didn’t complete it. Many of those young people persisting in crime had found unpaid work ineffective in promoting desistance despite the effort and cost involved in making it happen. On the other hand, those young people who desisted from crime had much more positive experiences of unpaid work.

Inspectors were pleased to find that YOT workers generally worked hard at building relationships. Those young people who were successful in turning away from crime laid great store on a trusting, open and collaborative relationship with a YOT worker.

The Youth Justice Board and youth offending services have continued the national implementation of the AssetPlus assessment and planning framework which will help YOTs to personalise desistance support for young people and all youth offending service staff are due to complete training which includes desistance theory.

Dame Glenys Stacey said:

“The Ministry of Justice is considering whether the way youth justice works at the moment is fit for purpose, and is looking at how to prevent youth crime and how to rehabilitate young people who have committed crimes. The review’s interim report in February 2016 highlighted the importance of improving educational outcomes for children and young people who have offended and we agree – YOTs need to give this greater emphasis.

“But there are other factors YOTs would do well to focus on – which include stimulating a child’s motivation to change, addressing substance misuse and helping them to become part of a community. This inspection has highlighted some critical lessons to be learned if desistance theory is to become fully embedded in youth offending service.

“Most notably – and I think this does take the research forwards a little – those successful in desisting from crime laid great store on a trusting, open and collaborative relationship with a YOT worker or other professional, seeing it as the biggest factor in their achievement.”

A copy of this report can be found on HM Inspectorate of Probation’s website at http://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprobation.

Little or no progress at all in moving young offenders to adult probation services say Inspectors

Young-offendersjLittle progress has been made in improving the preparation and planning for young people to move from youth offending services to adult probation services and this can affect their rehabilitation, said Alan MacDonald, Assistant Chief Inspector of Probation.

Today HM Inspectorate of Probation published the report of an inspection of transition arrangements.

Today’s report, Transition Arrangements: a follow-up inspection, sought to establish how far the recommendations from a 2012 joint report, Transitions: An inspection of the transitions arrangements from youth to adult services in the criminal justice system had been implemented and whether practice had improved. HMI Probation inspectors visited six areas and spoke to staff from Youth Offending Teams, Community Rehabilitation Companies and the National Probation Service, conducting 50 interviews. Despite some examples of effective practice, inspectors noted an overall lack of progress by various local and national bodies in implementing its recommendations.

There are various different orders and sentences which can be imposed on a young person. Some, such as referral orders, reparation orders or detention and training orders, do not get transferred to the adult world when a person reaches the age of 18. Some youth rehabilitation orders can be transferred once specific requirements have been completed, and other orders should be transferred, as well as long-term custodial sentences.

Inspectors found that:

  • in the community, some young people were not identified as eligible for transfer and, in those cases which were identified, transfer was often undertaken as a purely procedural task;
  • young people were not as informed or involved as they should have been;
  • there was insufficient timely sharing of information between youth and adult services to enable sentence plans to be delivered without interruption; and
  • in custody, insufficient forward planning and communication led to an interruption in sentence planning and delivery of interventions after young people had transferred to an over-18 young offender institution or prison.

Inspectors made eight recommendations in the 2012 report. This report recommends to the Youth Justice Board, Youth Offending Team Management Boards, the National Offender Management Service, the National Probation Service and Community Rehabilitation Companies that those original recommendations are followed.

Alan MacDonald said:

“The transfer from the youth to adult world is a challenging time for any individual, including those involved in the criminal justice system. Failure to plan a smooth and effective transfer places a barrier to compliance and rehabilitation in young people’s lives.

“We found some examples of effective practice. However, the majority of cases had not been identified as possible transfer cases. There was no consistency across the areas we inspected. In many cases there was little or no preparation, a failure to use existing information and a lack of planning. Young people entered the adult service unprepared and uninformed of the expectations they faced. We believe that young people are less likely to reoffend if they receive well-planned, uninterrupted supervision moving from Youth Offending Teams to adult probation providers.”

A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Probation website from 19 January at: justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprobation

Integrated Offender Management has potential but more evidence of its effectiveness is needed, say Inspectors

IOM Themrev

The approach that sees police officers, probation staff and other agencies work together to manage offenders in a co-ordinated way is promising and has potential, said independent inspectors. Today they published the report of a joint inspection into integrated offender management (IOM), but added that a better understanding was needed of its effectiveness.

Integrated Offender Management is a significant element of the Home Office and Ministry of Justice strategy to prevent crime and reduce reoffending. It involves criminal justice and other agencies working together to deliver a local response to crime, targeting those offenders most at risk of reoffending or committing offences that might cause serious harm to others. The principles of IOM emphasise that all partners should co-operate in working with offenders and, in turn, that offenders must face their responsibilities or face the consequences.

The report, An Inspection of the Integrated Offender Management Approach reflects the findings of HM Inspectorate of Probation and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary. It looked at six areas of work in assessing the impact of IOM. Inspectors found a mixed picture with differing degrees of commitment to the approach among the relevant agencies. Although there were individual cases where remarkable progress had been made, overall the proportion of the sample that had been breached or reconvicted was over 60%. This figure could be seen as disappointing, but it also reflected the entrenched patterns of behaviour and multiple problems of those targeted.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • some good rehabilitative work was being undertaken;
  • there were some excellent examples of information sharing to ensure enforcement action was swift and effective where it became necessary;
  • considerable effort had usually been made to engage the offender in the IOM approach, usually in a custodial environment; and
  • offenders were broadly very positive about the way they had been treated and pleased to have been offered the help they needed to move away from offending.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • in some places, the IOM approach was underdeveloped;
  • in some cases, the police were attempting to fulfil both rehabilitative and control functions where Probation Trusts had not committed sufficient resources;
  • written plans for managing offenders were often not well developed, although staff were generally able to articulate what they were trying to achieve; and
  • some staff lacked the necessary training to effectively deliver IOM approaches.

The chief inspectors made recommendations for improvement to the Home Office, Ministry of Justice, Chief Constables, Probation Trusts, the Youth Justice Board, community safety partnerships and IOM partnerships. These included proving a single framework for those offenders identified as suitable, commissioning a structured evaluation of the cost and benefits in terms of crime reduction and ensuring that the principles are incorporated into the Transforming Rehabilitation programme.

The chief inspectors said:

“Overall, our findings about the outcomes of the Integrated Offender Management (IOM) approach give rise to cautious optimism. It was clear to us that the right offenders were targeted; there were some indications that offenders’ lives had improved because their problems, such as substance misuse, had been addressed. Although reoffending rates could be regarded as disappointing, we saw this as symptomatic of the entrenched pattern of offending among the IOM cohort, rather than as a failure of the approach itself.

“But critically, we found that the absence of a structured and systematic approach to evaluation is undermining efforts to assess and report on the effectiveness of Integrated Offender Management. Integrated Offender Management is a commonsense approach that intuitively feels right. However, the absence of clear evidence of effectiveness in terms of both crime reduction and reducing reoffending inhibits understanding of its impact and value.”

A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Probation website from 27 March 2014 at:  http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/inspectorate-reports/hmi-probation/inspection-reports-thematic